Protecting your property during hurricane season
- Flood damage is usually not covered by homeowner’s policies.
- Understand how your deductible is applied to hurricane damage.
- Look for emergency aid resources to help you pay for repairs, medical bills, or offer financial assistance.
- Know who should make a claim if a tree in your yard damages a neighbor’s property.
- Take inventory of your belongings before a storm hits.
- Don’t wait to make a claim.
Now that hurricane season is here – and storms are already threatening – it’s time to take hurricane preparedness seriously. One of the most important things to consider is your insurance.
Do you know what’s covered and what’s not? What’s your deducible? What’s the process for filing a claim? Here are nine things to understand about hurricanes and insurance policies.
1. Flooding and homeowner’s insurance
Did you know that flood damage from a storm is not covered by a standard homeowner’s policy? Wind and water damage are often covered but not floodwaters. Most homeowners need to buy separate flood insurance.
2. Hurricane damage and deductibles
If you live in an area that’s considered high risk for hurricanes, it pays to read over your homeowner’s policy. Pay special attention to your deductible for hurricane-related damage. Some policies only cover a “percentage of your home’s value” versus a flat dollar amount. Depending on the amount of damage, the payout may not be enough to cover all the repairs.
3. Know how your deductible for hurricane damage applies
With most policies, the deductible only applies to damage from hurricanes if they have officially been categorized by the National Weather Service or the U.S. Hurricane Center. A deductible will apply if you experience damage from another type of windstorm but the “trigger” event will vary depending on your policy.
4. Your deductible for hurricane damage may be higher
In some cases, you must also buy a separate policy for windstorm damage. Even policies that cover wind damage may require a higher deductible before covering a claim. The deductible can be anywhere from 2% – 5% of your coverage amount. Be sure to review your policy to make sure it does cover windstorm damage and if so, the amount of your deductible.
5. You can find emergency assistance
If your property is damaged, your state’s emergency management agency can provide you with resources for emergency housing, medical, and financial assistance. Go to DisasterAssistance.gov and type in your address to find out about available aid in your area.
The Federal government also offers financial and other types of assistance through FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). If you need additional financial assistance for repairs or to replace lost property, look into a low-interest loan through SBA Disaster Loan Assistance. (Note: The loan is offered by the Small Business Administration but you don’t have to own a business to qualify.)
6. Downed trees
It’s not uncommon for trees to topple over during a hurricane or even a strong tropical storm. There are some important rules to remember if one of your trees comes down. If a tree in your yard damages a neighbor’s property, your neighbor should file the claim with his/her insurance company. If the fallen tree doesn’t cause any damage, your policy may pay up to $1,000 to have it safely removed.
7. If you need to stay somewhere else
If you need to stay somewhere else while repairs are done on your home, your policy may pay some or all of your living expenses, either up to a year or up to a percentage of your total coverage amount. This money can be used to pay for rent, food, clothes, and other costs.
8. Make a claim right away
If you do experience damage to your home or property, be sure to file a claim as soon as possible. First, document and take pictures of the damage. Then, do what you can to prevent further damage, such as covering broken windows or putting up tarps to cover roof damage. You can download an app from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which will help you put your documentation together.
9. Take inventory of your property now
Go through your home and make an inventory of your possessions before a storm threatens. Keep it in a safe place or save it online so you can access it after the storm passes. Having this list will save you from trying to remember this information. Take pictures of every room and save any receipts that show the value of your possessions, such as computers, electronics, appliances, and other valuables.
Meet your insurance needs this hurricane season
Hurricane season can leave you feeling anxious and uncertain as you wait to see if a storm will come your way. Make sure you have the right insurance coverage to protect your home, car, and other property. If you have questions about your policies or you’re interested in a quote, contact us today.
This blog and website are made available by the publisher for educational and informational purposes only. It is not to be used as a substitute for competent insurance, legal, or tax advice from a licensed professional in your state.